Canada will reinforce a ‘rules-based international order,’ Freeland says – National

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Canada will continue to meet with like-minded nations as it aims to bridge divides between countries at a time of simmering international tensions, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said from Germany on Saturday.


READ MORE:
Freeland says she pushed for end to steel, aluminum tariffs in meeting with Nancy Pelosi

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The approach is necessary as Canada strives to reinforce the “rules-based international order,” Freeland said in a conference call with reporters as she wrapped up her time at the Munich Security Conference.

“We also think we need to … bring together specific coalitions around specific issues,” she said, listing the Lima Group – which helped empower Venezuela’s opposition in its fight against President Nicolas Maduro – as an example of Canada doing just that.

The group helped identify the politician Canada and its allies recognize as Venezuela’s real leader, Juan Guaido, as a contender to bring down Maduro’s regime.

WATCH: Freeland says coalition against ISIS is ‘succeeding’ but fight is not over






“There is now a very long list of countries who have recognized Juan Guaido as interim president,” she said. “That is a sign that the international community is coming together around democracy in Venezuela.”

But she added that Canada is not – and should not be – leading the fight against Maduro.

“This is a process led by the people of Venezuela,” she said. “They are the ones who need to win this effort. Our job as the international community is to support them, and that is very much what we’re doing.”


READ MORE:
China slams Freeland’s detention comment, says she ‘can’t help speaking without thinking’ 

She said that beyond seeking out like-minded countries, Canada will continue to name and shame those involved in human rights abuses, listing the country’s involvement in protesting the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar as an example of such an approach.

The federal government has appointed former Liberal MP Bob Rae as Canada’s special envoy to Myanmar and pledged $300 million over the next three years to combat the crisis there. Last September, Parliament voted unanimously to strip Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, of her honorary Canadian citizenship for failing to stop the atrocities committed against the Rohingya people.

Freeland’s public push for a rules-following international order also comes in the midst of an ongoing dispute between Canada and China, following what she called the superpower’s “arbitrary” detention of two Canadians in apparent retaliation for Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou.

WATCH: Freeland says Canada, Lima Group calling on Venezuela military to recognize Guaido






Freeland said the detention of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig was central to her discussion with Rob Malley, president of the International Crisis Group, and is yet another example of nations rallying together.

“The ICG has been a very important partner in working to build international support,” she said.

Numerous countries – including Germany, France, the Netherlands, the U.K., Australia, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia – have spoken against the men’s detention. Earlier this week in Munich, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said the American response had not been strong enough.

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Freeland to meet with family of Edith Blais, who’s been missing in Burkina Faso since Dec. 15

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Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau will meet Friday with the family of Edith Blais, who went missing in Burkina Faso and hasn’t been heard from since Dec. 15.

The 34-year-old Blais and her Italian friend Luca Tacchetto were travelling by car in southwestern Burkina Faso and were supposed to cross the border into Togo to do volunteer work with an aid group. A statement Wednesday by Burkina Faso Security Minister Clement Sawadogo referred to their disappearance as a kidnapping.


Blais’ mother and sister live in Sherbrooke, where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers have been holding a cabinet retreat.

“We understand that they are going through a very, very difficult situation,” Bibeau said. “We want to reassure them that the Canadian government is doing everything that can be done to find Edith and Luca as quickly as possible.”


READ MORE:
‘A great guy’: Canadian killed in Burkina Faso mourned by family, friends

The ministers will meet with the Blais family the day after news broke that anoher Canadian, Kirk Woodman, had been found dead in Burkina Faso. He had been shot multiple times after he was kidnapped by militants. Woodman, originally from Halifax, worked for a Vancouver-based mining company.

Blais and Tacchetto set off in his car on Nov. 20 from the northern Italian town of Vigonza, outside Padua. They made their way to France, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania and Mali before arriving in the city of Bobo-Dioulasso in Burkina Faso’s southwest.

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Getting China to release Kovrig and Spavor is a top priority for ‘the entire government,’ Freeland says

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It’s a top priority for Canada to get Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor released from custody in China as soon as possible, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Saturday.

“This is a focus for the Prime Minister,” Freeland told reporters in a conference call. “This is a focus for the entire government.”

“We’re working hard on a number of fronts,” Freeland said.

Freeland’s comments come a day after she formally demanded that Kovrig and Spavor be let go.

China arrested Kovrig and Spavor on security grounds just days after Canadian authorities in Vancouver arrested Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive with Chinese firm Huawei Technologies, so she can be extradited to the U.S. to face fraud charges.

Meng has since been released on $10-million bail.

Freeland said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a meeting of senior cabinet ministers and officials on Friday morning to stress that the release of Kovrig and Spavor is a top priority, Freeland said.

“The prime minister is deeply engaged in the issue,” Freeland said.

“It’s very personal,” Freeland said.

“The prime minister is very involved and the prime minister has been extremely involved in the issue from Day 1,” Freeland said.

She added that she had been speaking with Chinese authorities, stressing that Canada has the utmost respect for the rule of law.

“This has not been a political decision by Canada,” Freeland said. “This is about the rule of law.”

Freeland said she continues to be in discussions with Allies over the arrests of the Canadians, and that she’s very gratified by their response.

“We do believe that Canada is most effective and strongest when we are able to work together with our allies and partners,” Freeland said.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said this week that he’s “deeply concerned by suggestions of a political motivation for the detention of two Canadian citizens by the Chinese government. I call for them to be treated in a fair, unbiased and transparent manner.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called for Kovrig and Spavor to be freed but the State Department repeated the sentiment Friday.

“We share Canada’s commitment to the rule of law as fundamental to all free societies, and we will defend and uphold this principle. We also express our deep concern for the Chinese government’s detention of two Canadians earlier this month and call for their immediate release,” spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement titled “Canada’s Legitimate Arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.”

In yet another statement this week, the directors of several European policy institutions in Berlin expressed “deep concern” about the detained Canadians.

“Developments such as these increase uncertainty and distrust among foreign scholars who regularly conduct research within China, as they fear for their safety,” the statement said. “This will clearly undermine efforts to better understand developments in China and to further constructive relations between China and other countries.”

The bodies include the European Council on Foreign Relations, the Mercator Institute for China Studies and the Global Public Policy Institute.

With files from Canadian Press

Peter Edwards is a Toronto-based reporter primarily covering crime. Reach him by email at pedwards@thestar.ca

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Canada’s ambassadors urging allies to push for release of Canadians detained in China: Freeland – National

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Canada’s ambassadors around the world are launching a concerted campaign to pressure allies to push for the release of two Canadians detained in China, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Saturday.

In a teleconference call with reporters, Freeland said Canadian ambassadors would reach out to their counterparts to discuss the “arbitrary detention” of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, which she said set a “worrying precedent.”

“I will continue in the coming days, along with Canada‘s ambassadors around the world, to be speaking with foreign counterparts about this issue,” Freeland said. “Our ambassadors… will be speaking directly in an organized effort with their counterparts.”

READ MORE: Chinese official slams Huawei exec’s arrest in response to question about Canadian detentions

The United States, United Kingdom and European Union have expressed their support for Canada, but some countries are yet to comment publicly.

Kovrig and Spavor were detained in the wake of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou‘s arrest in Vancouver earlier this month. Meng was arrested at the behest of U.S. authorities, who want her extradited there to face charges of fraud.

Freeland reiterated that Meng, who has been granted bail in Vancouver, has been given “full access to due process” in her legal proceedings.

WATCH: How tension between Canada and China will impact Canadians







Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was personally involved in the situation, Freeland said, although she declined to say if or when Trudeau would pick up the phone and call Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“We continue to be in discussion with China,” Freeland said. “This is clearly a difficult moment in our relationship with China. It’s important to keep on talking and raising the issues directly with them.”

WATCH: China questions Canada’s treatment of ‘illegally detained’ Meng Wanzhou







Freeland’s remarks came a day after the Canadian government issued a written statement saying it was “deeply concerned by the arbitrary detention by Chinese authorities” of Kovrig and Spavor, and formally demanded their release.

— With files from Reuters

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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L’année Freeland | Le Devoir

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Heureusement, il y a Chrystia Freeland. Si ce n’était de sa ministre des Affaires étrangères, Justin Trudeau serait sans renforts devant un électorat canadien qui semble se lasser autant de son style que de ses politiques.

Deux nouveaux sondages de l’Institut Angus Reid démontrent en quoi l’étoile du gouvernement Trudeau a pâli depuis son élection en 2015. Selon l’un de ces coups de sonde, publié cette semaine, à peine un Canadien sur trois dit maintenant approuver la performance de M. Trudeau, alors qu’autour de la moitié de l’électorat s’en déclarait satisfait il y a un an et à la fin de 2016.

Selon l’autre sondage, publié la semaine dernière, seule Mme Freeland se distingue au sein d’une équipe ministérielle dont la performance ne fait rien pour aider le gouvernement à sortir de l’ornière dans laquelle il semble s’être enlisé depuis des mois. Se montrant intraitable face aux gouvernements provinciaux qui s’opposent à ses politiques environnementales tout en disant tout faire pour débloquer la construction d’un oléoduc vers la côte ouest de la Colombie-Britannique, le gouvernement Trudeau a réussi à soulever la colère à travers le pays.

Cette colère est peut-être moins palpable au Québec puisque les Québécois semblent se sentir moins concernés par la politique fédérale en général et par le débat autour de l’expansion du pipeline Trans Mountain en particulier. Mais dans le reste du pays, M. Trudeau n’est pas le rassembleur qu’il prétend être. Il serait même devenu aussi polarisant que son père.

Comment expliquer l’animosité envers M. Trudeau dans l’ouest du pays ? Cette semaine, j’ai entendu un commentateur québécois dire que M. Trudeau a fait plus en trois ans pour aider l’industrie pétrolière albertaine que son prédécesseur conservateur Stephen Harper en avait fait en dix ans au pouvoir. Comme si les Albertains devaient être reconnaissants envers le premier ministre. Mais chaque geste que M. Trudeau aura posé pour voler au secours de l’industrie — qu’il s’agisse de l’achat de Trans Mountain ou de l’offre de prêts pour aider les compagnies à traverser la crise actuelle — a été perçu dans l’ouest du pays comme étant le résultat de l’inaction du gouvernement Trudeau pour débloquer le dossier des pipelines dès le début de son mandat.

Cela explique pourquoi son propre ministre des Ressources naturelles, Amarjeet Sohi, député d’Edmonton et responsable du dossier Trans Mountain au sein du gouvernement, obtient un score de -36, selon le sondage Angus Reid. Ce score est le résultat du fait qu’à peine 17 % des électeurs qui savent qui il est croient que M. Sohi fait un bon travail, alors que 53 % pensent le contraire. Pour plusieurs, il incarne l’ambivalence du gouvernement Trudeau envers l’industrie des sables bitumineux. Même s’il dit vouloir l’aider, peu d’Albertains le croient.

Pour sa part, la ministre de l’Environnement Catherine McKenna obtient un score de -8. Seulement 32 % des électeurs trouvent que celle qui doit faire passer la taxe sur le carbone qu’imposera son gouvernement et prendre des mesures pour que le Canada atteigne ses cibles en matière de réduction des gaz à effet de serre fait un bon travail. Mais 40 % pensent autrement.

Les scores du ministre l’Immigration, Ahmed Hussen, et du ministre de la Sécurité frontalière, Bill Blair, sont carrément catastrophiques : respectivement -46 et -38. Les Canadiens semblent devenir de moins en moins à l’aise avec l’immigration, et la performance de ces deux ministres dans le dossier des demandeurs d’asile n’a rien fait pour inspirer la confiance des électeurs.

Pour ce qui est du ministre des Finances, Bill Morneau, celui-ci ne semble pas être capable se relever après avoir perdu l’estime tant des électeurs en général que du milieu des affaires. Il obtient un score de -20 cette année, le même qu’en 2017. Le refus du gouvernement Trudeau de fixer une date cible pour le retour à l’équilibre budgétaire inquiète de plus en plus de Canadiens, alors que l’économie montre des signes de faiblesses. Si une récession frappe en 2019, les libéraux auront moins de marge de manoeuvre pour y répondre.

Parmi les ministres les plus en vue, donc, seule Mme Freeland, qui a piloté la renégociation de l’accord de libre-échange avec les États-Unis et le Mexique, jouit de l’estime d’un grand nombre d’électeurs canadiens. Avec un score de +20, presque la moitié des Canadiens qui la connaissent croient qu’elle fait un bon travail, tandis que 29 % pensent le contraire.

Même si elle n’a pas jusqu’ici réussi à convaincre le président américain, Donald Trump, de supprimer les droits de douane qu’il a imposés sur l’acier et l’aluminium canadiens, et même si elle n’a pas encore sorti son gouvernement de la controverse entourant la vente des véhicules blindés à l’Arabie saoudite, les Canadiens — et surtout les éditorialistes du pays — semblent aimer Mme Freeland. Elle est perçue sans aucun doute comme la joueuse par excellence de l’équipe de M. Trudeau. Ce dernier aura donc beaucoup besoin d’elle en 2019.

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Affaire Meng: le Canada ne pouvait se dérober à ses obligations, dit Freeland

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« Tourner les coins ronds » pour éviter d’arrêter une haute dirigeante chinoise à la demande des États-Unis n’était tout simplement pas envisageable, même pour esquiver une situation politique délicate, a fait valoir la ministre des Affaires étrangères, Chrystia Freeland.

Dans une entrevue accordée à La Presse canadienne, Mme Freeland a déclaré que ce type de tactique minerait l’engagement du Canada à l’égard de la primauté du droit à un moment où celle-ci est menacée dans le monde entier.

La ministre a estimé qu’il fallait « faire très attention » en suggérant de « tourner les coins ronds » en ce qui a trait à l’État de droit et aux obligations découlant d’un traité international.

Selon Mme Freeland, il s’agit de l’un des « fondements de tout ce qui fait la grandeur du pays, l’un des fondements de notre démocratie ».

Deux Canadiens sont détenus à Pékin depuis l’arrestation de Meng Wanzhou, directrice financière de Huawei Technologies, le 1er décembre à Vancouver.

Certains chefs d’entreprise et des analystes ont laissé entendre que le Canada aurait dû trouver un moyen de contourner ses obligations envers les États-Unis en vertu de la Loi sur l’extradition afin d’éviter les tensions avec la Chine et les États-Unis.

Mme Freeland a catégoriquement rejeté cette idée, affirmant que cela compromettrait la crédibilité du Canada auprès d’autres pays, y compris des « partenaires » du Canada en matière d’extradition.

Le gouvernement chinois et des médias d’État ont vilipendé la décision canadienne d’arrêter Mme Meng et ridiculisé l’argument de l’État de droit. Le président américain, Donald Trump, a également sapé la position du Canada lorsqu’il a laissé entendre lors d’une entrevue la semaine dernière qu’il pourrait intervenir dans l’affaire Meng si cela pouvait l’aider à conclure un accord commercial avec la Chine.

« Vous pourriez appeler cela une approche glissante ; vous pourriez l’appeler une approche de comptoir à salade », a déclaré Mme Freeland.

« La règle de droit ne consiste pas à suivre la règle de droit quand cela vous convient », a-t-elle ajouté.

Mme Freeland a parlé de l’importance du fait que l’ambassadeur du Canada en Chine, John McCallum, ait pu rencontrer les deux Canadiens détenus, l’entrepreneur Michael Spavor et l’ancien diplomate Michael Kovrig.

Mais elle a déclaré que cet accès n’est qu’un « premier pas » dans l’aide à ces deux hommes et à leur famille.

Mme Meng a été libérée sous caution et doit comparaître devant la cour à Vancouver en février pour ce qui risque d’être un long processus judiciaire.

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La ministre Freeland veut profiter du G20 pour parler de l’affaire Khashoggi

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La ministre des Affaires étrangères, Chrystia Freeland, veut profiter du prochain sommet du G20 en Argentine pour inciter l’Arabie saoudite à fournir des réponses sur le meurtre du journaliste Jamal Khashoggi.

Le Canada estime que l’enquête sur l’assassinat du journaliste saoudien est toujours ouverte, a indiqué la ministre Freeland, mardi.

« Le Canada ne considère pas du tout que l’affaire Khashoggi est close », a-t-elle déclaré.

Cette réaction contraste avec une déclaration faite plus tôt dans la journée par le président des États-Unis, Donald Trump, selon laquelle les faits entourant la mort de M. Khashoggi pourraient ne jamais être connus.

Mme Freeland s’attend à ce que cette affaire soit un enjeu des discussions entre les dirigeants des 20 plus grandes économies du monde, en décembre.

Elle affirme que le Canada fera pression pour lancer une enquête internationale transparente.

« La position très claire du Canada est que ceux qui sont responsables de ce meurtre horrible doivent rendre des comptes », a-t-elle soutenu.

« Et nous imaginons certainement que le meurtre de M. Khashoggi sera un enjeu, dont on discutera avec plusieurs des partenaires que nous rencontrerons. »

Le royaume est membre du G20 et la chaîne de télévision saoudienne Al-Arabiya a annoncé que le prince héritier saoudien Mohammed ben Salmane, qui dirige de facto le pays, participerait au sommet.

Les services de renseignement américains ont conclu que le prince héritier avait ordonné l’assassinat du 2 octobre, qui s’est produit dans le consulat saoudien à Istanbul, en Turquie.

Dans sa déclaration, Donald Trump a affirmé que le prince Salmane était peut-être courant du meurtre, « mais peut-être pas » non plus. Il a toutefois rappelé que l’Arabie saoudite demeurait un allié indéfectible des États-Unis, qui a aidé à garder les prix du pétrole bas.

Le Canada envisage aussi des sanctions

Les États-Unis ont déjà sanctionné 17 individus saoudiens en vertu de la loi Magnitski, et ne prévoient pas aller plus loin.

Mme Freeland indique que le Canada envisage des sanctions semblables, mais elle n’a pas précisé pourquoi cela n’a pas déjà été fait.

Une source gouvernementale a expliqué que toute décision de sanction serait approuvée par le cabinet, et ferait partie d’un processus global avec les alliés du Canada. Ce responsable s’est exprimé sous le couvert de l’anonymat, étant donné qu’il s’agit d’un enjeu délicat.

Dans le cadre de ce processus, le Canada fera aussi la promotion avec ses alliés d’une enquête internationale indépendante sur le sujet et d’une vérification de l’enregistrement fourni par les Turcs sur la mort du journaliste.

Mme Freeland n’a pas entendu l’enregistrement, mais elle a été informée de son contenu par le dirigeant du Service canadien du renseignement de sécurité (SCRS), qui s’est rendu en Turquie pour l’entendre, selon cette source.

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Freeland announces new Canadian consul general posts for Detroit, Los Angeles

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Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has filled two new senior diplomatic posts to lead the Canadian consulates in Detroit and Los Angeles.

Former New Democrat MP Joe Comartin is the new consul general for Detroit, while Zaib Shaikh, who has worked on both sides of the camera in the Canadian entertainment industry, is heading to Los Angeles to serve as Canada’s top diplomat in the heart of the American cultural industry.

For Comartin, who represented a Windsor, Ont. riding for 15 years, the new post won’t mean a long commute from home.

Comartin will be working in the hub of the American auto industry, which was at the heart of the recent free trade negotiations between Canada, Mexico and the United States.

Shaikh was most recently the film commissioner and director of entertainment industries for the City of Toronto; he’s also worked as a producer and director as well as an actor, with roles in Deepa Mehta’s film, « Midnight’s Children, » and television show « Little Mosque on the Prairie. »

A government official says Comartin’s post has a salary range of $125,900 to $148,100 while Shaikh’s job comes with a range of $140,900 to $165,700.

Zaib Shaikh, Toronto’s former film commissioner, has been named as Canada’s new consul general to Los Angeles. (CBC)

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Freeland says landing a renegotiated NAFTA deal was always going to come down to the wire

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Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said that if it was ever going to be possible to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement she believed a deal would only happen at the last possible moment.

« We had a bit of, we didn’t actually bet on this, but there was a conversation inside the team of when in September it would happen and I think it’s fair for me now to reveal I’ve always thought it would happen on Sunday night, » Freeland told CBC’s The National.

« I always thought it wouldn’t be finally finalized until the 11th hour, » she told host Rosemary Barton.

Freeland said, that despite the challenge ahead of her, and the expected drama to come, that NAFTA — now renamed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, USMCA — was a trading relationship that worked, was beneficial to all three partners, and that « economic logic ultimately does prevail »

« So I was really, really, ultimately, in my heart, serene about the outcome, » she said.

There were two key moments along the way that signaled to Freeland a deal was not only possible, but likely. The first, she said, came when the U.S. backed down from its opening position on the rules of origin for the auto industry.

« The Americans had started off demanding 50 per cent U.S. domestic content in cars and car parts. That would have been devastating for Canada, and so we just had to say no. »

Freeland talks about when the deal would land.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland on when she thought the renegotiation of NAFTA would come together for Canada. 0:52

Then U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Freeland’s counterpart, came up with the idea that instead of demanding a certain percentage of the car had to be made by the U.S., it would require a percentage of the car to be manufactured by workers earning high wages.

« So instead of it being the U.S., it would be high-wage labour, which of course includes Canada, and suddenly the U.S. and Canadian interests were aligned and this was a deal that Canada could do » Freeland said.  

Dairy

The second moment when she knew a deal was likely, Freeland said, came in August when she went back to Washington « and it was clear that the car deal had been concluded by the Mexicans and also that the Americans really wanted us to be a part of it. »

« Which also makes sense. This has always been a three-way agreement. The Canadian economic relationship is clearly the most valuable one for the Americans, so it became clear to me in that first week that Ambassador Lighthizer had real goodwill when it came to getting a deal, » she said.

Freeland also spoke about the challenges of both sides coming into the negotiation with red lines they were not prepared to cross. One of those lines was the way Canada ran its dairy sector.

« Canada came in with the position, it was very clear, supported by the entire Parliament, that we wanted to defend our supply management, our supply managed sector, » Freeland said. « And by the way, whether or not Canada has supply management needs to be a decision for Canada and Canadians and not for any other country, so we were clear about that. »

I don’t think any country would like someone to be in their critical trade negotiations that was not tough.– Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland

Freeland said the debate over dairy was quite normal for trade negotiations in that the U.S. wanted Canada to open its market in dairy, just as Canada wanted the market opened for cars and car parts.

« What we felt was possible and reasonable was to offer some additional market access, » in the dairy sector, she said. « What we were not prepared to do was to change our system, because that’s our business, not anybody else’s. »

Another red line for Canada was Chapter 19.

« What Chapter 19 does is, it gives us laws and rules that govern our trading relationship with the United States and an independent binational panel that decides who’s right and who’s wrong, » Freeland said.

Freeland talks about dispute resolution and Chapter 19.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland explains why Chapter 19 was so critical for Canada in the renegotiation of NAFTA. 0:39

« We Canadians understand how close our ties with the United States are, how critical they are, but also that they are big and we are small. And so the way to make that work is to have a set of rules, and have an independent place you can go to figure out who is in the right and who isn’t. Chapter 19 is that, » Freeland said.

While that provision was an irritant for Lighthizer from the outset of negotiations, Freeland said her U.S. counterpart « has come to appreciate its value for Canada and the value it brought to the larger trading relationship. »

Working with Trump

Freeland also addressed a side letter that lays out automotive export restraints, rebuffing any suggestion that Canada is facing quotas. 

« I want to be very, very clear. There are no quotas in [USMCA] on car sales between the U.S. and Canada, there no quotas on car parts when it comes to the side letter on 232 [national security provisions] on cars and car parts, » she said.

« What that side letter does is it gives us some comfort that in the, I believe, frankly, unlikely event that the U.S. were to impose 232 tariffs on cars and car parts, we would have a huge part, actually well over our current level of trade with the U.S., [that] would be guaranteed not to be exposed to those. »

Freeland also touched on U.S. President Donald Trump’s apparent dislike of her, something thrust into the open recently when Trump told reporters in New York: « We’re very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada. We don’t like their representative very much. » 

While he did not mention Freeland by name, the comment was widely seen as a jab at Freeland.

« I don’t think any country would like someone to be in their critical trade negotiations that was not tough, » she said.

Power & Politics talks to experts about the USMCA:

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Freeland postpones UN speech today amid NAFTA talks and looming deadline

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Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s speech to the UN General Assembly in New York City today will now take place Monday due to NAFTA talks, and officials say there is a strong possibility someone else might have to deliver the remarks on Canada’s behalf.

Freeland, who is in the throes of a last-stage effort to secure a North American free trade deal, traded her time slot on the UN rostrum, according to officials in the minister’s office. 

Officials told CBC News that the postponement of her speech was due to the trade negotiations, which sources say intensified this week in the face of Monday’s U.S. congressional deadline. 

Freeland’s remarks to the UN would be part of Canada’s pitch for a place at the top table in the organization. Two Security Council seats are up for grabs, in a three-way race between Canada, Ireland and Norway. 

But while Canada vies for a seat, there’s increasing trade pressure.

Mexico’s secretary of the economy said a trilateral deal could be possible this weekend.

Mexico’s President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been pushing for a new trilateral trade deal between Mexico, Canada and the U.S. (Carlos Jasso/Reuters)

As of Saturday morning, the minister was still in Canada. Sources with direct knowledge of the talks told CBC News that David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., had flown to Ottawa to be part of the concentrated Canadian effort. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is also directly involved in the effort, sources say, and talks are continuing late on Saturday.

The disputes over dairy and Chapter 19 provisions remain unresolved, sources say. That chapter allows companies that feel their products have been unfairly hit by anti-dumping or countervailing duties to request arbitration. 

The text of the existing U.S.-Mexico deal is expected to be published by Sunday, and there have been fears that Congress would be willing to press ahead with the bilateral agreement if Canada can’t get a deal done.

Mexico agrees to intervene, then walks back

Mexico’s new president-elect, however, said in an interview Friday that he has agreed to push the American side to make a deal with Canada.

President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked him during a Thursday phone call « to intervene and call on the U.S. government to reach an agreement » with Canada on the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

« We agreed to that, » Lopez Obrador told reporters in Mexico City. The president-elect also said he would insist on a trilateral pact.

However, later Friday evening, Lopez Obrador’s Senate leader, Ricardo Monreal, said Mexico wouldn’t walk away from a bilateral agreement. 

Trudeau has been directly involved with this weekend’s trade talks, a government source said. (Amr Alfiky/Reuters)

« The ideal is a trilateral deal, but we’re prepared for the possible need of a bilateral, » he told Bloomberg News.

According to a readout of the call from the Prime Minister’s Office, the two men « agreed to work closely together to further strengthen the dynamic partnership between Canada and Mexico, » and « discussed NAFTA and the mutually beneficial economic and trading relationship between our two countries. »

But Lopez Obrador, who takes office on Dec. 1, said the NAFTA language between Washington and Mexico City was now final.

Sources familiar with the talks say Freeland took part in a lengthy conference call Friday night with negotiators and their U.S. counterparts in Washington.

No face-to-face meetings were scheduled this week, as the UN General Assembly met in New York City. Freeland and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had no meetings at the UN, but many high-level conversations happened over the course of the week.

With files from The Canadian Press, Reuters

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